Tuningi Newsletter March 2007

By gavintonkinson on March 1, 2007


Hello again to all of you!

We hope that all of you are getting ready for the Easter holidays and that most of you are planning to spend it in the lovely Madikwe. We also hope that some of you are coming to visit us here in Tuningi, in particular. It is a real honour for us to entertain return guests over and over again, or to hear that people have come to visit us on recommendation by their friends or family.

We still have not had any rain, but have not lost hope yet, as the clouds have been building up over the last couple of days every afternoon. This might just result in a nice thunderstorm that can fill the dams and waterholes to see us through winter.With the bush this dry already, the game viewing has been quite spectacular over the last month. The grass is very short for this time of the year and the animals congregate around the water holes as there is still more green grass and foliage around the wet areas.

We know very well that, even if we offer the guest the best ever accommodation, food and service, the game lodge experience is not complete if the game viewing is not up to standard. For this reason we employ rangers that are not only acute observers and communicators, but also true naturalists with a passion for the living world. Guests at Tuningi are afforded the opportunity to share in their intimate wisdom and understanding of nature.

In March, our rangers showed our privileged guests a great time as usual.

The elusive black rhino was seen at Inkwe pan often. As they are still on the endangered species list, it is always most exciting to see them.

Last year in July, one of the female lions had three beautiful lion cubs, which we saw all the time. We were very worried about them, as lion cubs often get killed by other lions, hyenas or wild dogs, but we are relieved to report, that she has been a great mother so far and that we still have the privilege to bump into them every now and then.

Although there is not a lot of water in the pans and dams at the moment, the elephants still entertain us on game drives with their extravagant bath displays. You can watch for hours as they play with each other and roll around in the mud. Some of the dams are fed by boreholes, and the elephants know exactly where the fresh water runs from the pipe. The older bulls insist on drinking only the pure water from the pipe, which causes a lot of drama, pushing, shoving and noise. Great game viewing!

A leopard sighting is always unbelievably exhilarating.

Leopards are widespread throughout South Africa , and the only large cats able to survive outside protected areas. Being solitary and primarily nocturnal ( and able to subsist on small prey) they can go about their life mostly undetected in comparison to lion who are group living and in need of large prey, or cheetah, who are diurnal (active during the day).

An estimated 15 to 30 leopards were enclosed within the boundary of Madikwe Game Reserve when it was established in 1991. It takes a lot of luck, skill, and patience to track a leopard, but sometimes we just happen to be at the right place at the right time. These are moments never to be forgotten. Every time a leopard is spotted in the reserve, excitement grows, because the more these skittish cats get exposed to the game vehicles, the more relaxed they will become around them. This will result in them becoming more confident around vehicles and less likely to shy away from them.

This month we had an awesome sighting of a leopard with her three cubs at Chlou dam. This happened while we were parked on the dam wall, watching, elephant, buffalo and rhino. You must think that this is too good to be true, but it was just one of those fantastic moments in our lives!

We also often see a beautiful leopard, hiding in the rocks in the Inselbergs. It takes a practiced eye to spot him, though.

We received a fantastic gift from our dear friend Hilary Wylie this month. She bought Tuningi a surveillance camera to put up at our water hole. This camera now sends the images of what is happening at the water hole to a TV screen in the bar. For the first time we are now able to see who has visited us while we were not looking. We can also keep an eye on the water hole at any time while we are in the bar area and alert the guests to go and see the action first hand. This is extremely exciting, for the elusive leopard usually comes to drink when nobody is watching.

The game drives are definitely not just about chasing after the big and dangerous stuff! Our guides will teach you about termites and butterflies and squirrels and stars and moths and birds and grass and trees and, and, and….

They will also show you the most unforgettable African sunsets in the world!

Well, we can carry on for ever, but will rather chat to you again after the Easter holidays. Happy egg hunting, and all of the best to you!

Kindest regards

The T-team

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